Estate Planning in the UAE
If the deceased died intestate (without leaving a will), then the transfer of assets will be considered by a UAE court in accordance with the UAE Civil Code and sharia. All the assets of the deceased located in the UAE will be “frozen” until his debts (including fees and penalties) are paid and the court decides to distribute such assets to the heirs. It usually takes several months to obtain a court decision, and if there is a dispute between the heirs, the procedure can take more than a year.
Therefore, in relation to UAE assets, it is advisable to issue a will recognized by local law. There are two key options available:
- make a will under the law of the country where the potential testator is resident;
- make a will in the UAE, for example, by contacting the DIFC Courts Wills Service.
The main drawback of the first option is that a foreign will cannot be executed in the UAE without a will recognition by local court, which significantly increases the time of transferring assets to the heirs. Besides, the court has the right to apply sharia law to resolve succession issues even if a foreign will is in place.
A will registered at the DIFC Courts Wills Service does not require taking further legal action and can be executed in Dubai and RAK without additional administrative procedures.
Such will can be made by any non-Muslim over 21 years of age who has assets in RAK or Dubai.
- Full Will – covers all types of assets, as well as guardianship of the testator’s minor children;
- Guardianship Will – covers guardianship of the testator’s minor children if they are resident in RAK or Dubai;
- Property Will – covers real estate located in Dubai or RAK. One will can cover up to 5 real estate properties;
- Business Owners Will – covers shares in companies owned by the testator. One will can cover up to 5 companies;
- Financial Assets Will – covers bank and brokerage accounts. One will can cover up to 10 accounts.
The price stated is for supporting intestate (without a will) succession procedure in the UAE, not including government or court fees* (VAT not included).
Drafting a will through the DIFC Courts Wills Service is AED 18 365 (USD 5 000) (VAT not included).
*Will registration fees at the DIFC Courts Wills Service range from AED 5 000 to AED 15 000 (not including 5% VAT) depending on the type of the will. The testator has the right to revoke or change the will at any time.